WASHINGTON--Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, told House lawmakers Wednesday that he couldn't answer questions about what he told his father after a controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016, citing attorney-client privilege, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said.
The Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, rejected Trump Jr.'s argument, telling reporters, "In my view, there is no attorney-client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son."
Schiff said Trump Jr., answered the "overwhelming majority of questions" during more than six hours of closed-door testimony with the committee's probe into Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
Trump Jr., acknowledged he discussed the June 9, 2016 meeting with his father after it became public through news accounts a year later. But he declined to answer questions about what he told his father. His lawyers claimed that conversation took place in the presence of legal counsel, which is why he invoked attorney-client privilege.
Schiff said the committee planned to follow up on the claim of privilege and asked for more time to deliberate on it.
The conversation is "important, depending on what was discussed," Schiff said. "It would go to both what took place during the meeting, as well as whether there was any effort to obstruct the investigation into the campaign's contact with the Russians or any other misrepresentations to the public about that meeting."
Committee Republicans, led Texan Michael Conaway, wouldn't comment on the specifics of Trump Jr.'s testimony, but portrayed him as forthcoming. "From my perspective, all of our questions were answered," he said.
Asked if Trump answered all the lawmakers' questions, Conaway wouldn't say.
Trump Jr. has already met behind closed doors with the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Wednesday's voluntary appearance was his first face-to-face meeting with Congress since Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation leveled charges against four associates of President Donald Trump, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Trump Jr. has said he went into the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya to obtain damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton, but nothing came of it. Others attending were Manafort; Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser; and lobbyist and former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin.